John Russell Darras

Photo of John Russell Darras

John Russell Darras


   John Russell Darras, 87, of Leola, PA entered into eternal rest on March 6, 2018. Born in Bulger, PA, he was the son of the late John B. and Margaret Cochran Darras. He was the husband of Ruth Ann Franz Darras, who died in 1999. They were married for 49 years and raised five children. He then married Mary Mellinger.

    John learned his work ethic as a young boy growing up in a small coal mining town in western PA. His strong drive to improve life for himself and his family was something that shaped his entire life. He started working at the age of 8, milking cows on a neighboring farm and only recently stopped going in to work at Dart.

     After graduating from Burgettstown High School in 1948, he attended Grove City College and University of Pittsburgh, and began working for The Koppers Company as a chemist. Because John was a very ambitious and intelligent young man, he was quickly promoted and moved to Michigan as salesman for the entire lower peninsula.

     It was there, that he met two wonderful men, a father and son, by the last name of Dart. He had called on them to sell his raw plastic bead to use in manufacturing their marble game in their small factory. They had wanted to come up with a new product. These three, plus two others would go on to develop a prototype for a foam cup and form a company called Dart Container Corporation. John then moved his family to Leola, PA to build the second plant in the corporation. Dart Container has now become the largest manufacturer of disposable dinnerware in the world.

    John always gave his wife Ruth all the credit in the world for “keeping the home fires burning" while he traveled worldwide, working hard to grow the company.  Their five children include Peggy Lee Lintner, New Holland; William Franz Darras, husband of Patricia Bushong, Leola; Patricia Ann Hockenberry wife of the late Roger Hockenberry, Lewisberry; Barbara Jo Van Ness, wife of Dr. Marc Van Ness, Colorado Springs, CO; and Sandra Ruth Darras, Sarasota. He is also survived by thirteen grandchildren, of whom he was so proud: Justin Kulp, Carrie Falduts, Alison Poole, Joel Darras, Sean Darras, William Darras, Keric Hockenberry, Kodi Hockenberry, Klint Hockenberry, Krystyn Jones, Lauren Millstein, Kendra Van Ness, and Nicholas Loyal. He also has seventeen great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a sister, Margaret Ann Lee and a brother, Robert Wayne Darras.

    John had two very passionate hobbies. One was golf, having traveled far and wide to some of the best courses in the world and golfing with some of the best players. The other was his continuing love of “farming" which stemmed from his younger years of working on farms and owning a small farm in western PA. He was happiest while sitting on his John Deere.

     John was a member of many organizations over the years, but most enjoyed his term as President of The Lancaster Country Club from 1994-1995.

     Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend a memorial service at Highland Presbyterian Church, 500 E. Roseville Rd., Lancaster, PA on Saturday, March 17 at 10:00 AM.  Visitation with family: 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to: Conestoga Valley Christian Community Services, 2420 Gehman Lane, Lancaster, PA 17602 or The American Heart Association, 610 Community Way, Lancaster, PA 17603.

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